A city trader has successfully challenged to a judgement awarding his ex-spouse significant capital. The decision raises more questions than it answers.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the combination of potentially relevant factors such as a short marriage, no children, dual incomes and separate finances was sufficient to justify the parting from an equal sharing principle to achieve overall fairness between the two parties.

This ground breaking ruling ultimately dictates that marriage is no longer a financial partnership in some circumstances.

This raises far more questions than it answers.

There was previously no legal distinction between a short and a long marriage and therefore no defined point after which wealth generated should be shared although it was often exercised in practice.

What we have seen on an increasingly frequent basis in recent years is the Courts adopting a move towards ensuring that meeting the needs of spouses after they divorce should be the principle factor in determining a settlement.  This case reinforces that concept and emphasises that need takes precedent, even in the case of couples possessing significant joint wealth.

It reinforces the argument that couples should be encouraged to enter into pre-nuptial agreements which may avoid huge costs on certain matrimonial litigation.  It may be that in light of this decision, couples take a more relaxed attitude towards pre-nuptial agreements if they know that their marriage is short and childless and they are both in work. One of them can now point to this decision as a reason not to share assets built up during the marriage.

Help

If you need any advice on this ground breaking ruling or on the pros and cons of pre-nuptial agreements, don’t hesitate to speak to one of our specialists at Boston, Lincoln, Spalding, Sleaford, Grantham and Newark.

 

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